Wow! Vang Vieng is a serious party town!
Arrived at 9pm into Oh La La bar where 23 people (yes 23!) were playing killer pool. The rules were clearly designed to get patrons drunk: miss a shot and down a whisky; pot a ball and down a whisky; win the game for a crate of beer and whisky!! Vang Vieng is all about drinking and partying.
The main reason, probably the only reason, to take the trouble to get to Vang Vieng, is actually for a day time event and not a night time one. The town is infamous for riding down river on an inner More >
The 5 hour mini-van journey from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng reveals Laos’ mountainous terrain. Slowly climbing the winding mountain roads gives breathtaking views of rolling countryside and untouched lands. Roadside villages appear every 15 or so miles giving you a passing insight into their happy lives of near poverty – they bathe with hose pipes, live in shacks and are surrounded by their livestock of hens and cockerels. To a Western eye this seems disadvantageous but the Laos people laugh almost as much as their Thai neighbours and seem to find fun in everything they do.
When the sun went down 3 hours into our journey, the scenery disappeared and the winding roads became arduous and More >
The slow boat journey from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang in Laos (approx 32 GBP) involved many segments:
- 5 hour minibus from Chiang Mai guesthouse to Thailand / Laos border area.
- Overnight stay at guesthouse (included in price).
- 10 minute minibus to border crossing at Chiang Khong, Thailand.
- Cross Mekong River to Huay Xai in Laos and go through chaotic immigration and passport control. Process, if you can call it that, takes approx 90 minutes. Enter the immigration office and don’t be too alarmed when a random Laos ‘official’ (who is not wearing a uniform) takes your passport from you – he should hand it to the More >
Thankfully I only had to endure Phuket for 16 hours before I boarded an Air Asia flight direct to Chiang Mai (approx 40 GBP).
Chiang Mai airport is only 3 km from the city and taxi are cheap at 120 baht (approx 2.5 GBP). To bring the cost down (2.50 is a lot in Thailand!) I shared a taxi with 3 other new arrivals and by coincidence we were all headed to the same place – Julie’s Guesthouse – because we had all read Lonely Planet. Once a bar, restaurant, accommodation or activity makes it into Lonely Planet or Rough Guides, it More >
From Koh Lanta my next stop was Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. To get there I had to take two ferries to Phuket and then a flight. Unfortunately the second ferry didn’t arrive in time for the flight and I had to spend a night in Phuket.
I visited Phuket in 2002 and found it to be a very seedy place full of go-go bars, prostitutes and older Western men arm in arm with very young Thai girls. I didn’t want to visit again but opening my mind in 2009 I decided to see how it had changed in 7 years. More >
On the ferry from Railay to Koh Lanta, one of the chaps on the boat could arrange accommodation. Having none I welcomed his advice and we narrowed a vast list of Koh Lanta accommodations to 3 that were within my price range and (more importantly) were near the main Koh Lanta nightlife hotspot – according to the chap, the nightlife was best in Phra Ae beach, aka Long Beach.
I opted for the LD Beach bungalows for 600 baht per night (approx 12 GBP) and having dropped my gear in the concrete bungalow, set off to find out what night-time shenanigans More >
As the Phi Phi to Ao Nang ferry drew around a headland of limestone cliffs, the beautiful West Railay beach came into view. Wow wow wow! I am not one to use the word beautiful without good cause but West Railay beach left me with no option… I was amazed.
After Phuket and Phi Phi I expected the ferry to draw alongside a pier to disembark… this is not the case at Railay. Instead several longtail boats approached from the shore to transfer passengers and their luggage to the beach. As the longtails got closer, the scenery unfolded further and became More >
After 5 days on Phi Phi it’s time to leave. It has been good and not as bad as my friend who visited two weeks ago told it would be!!
Stayed in a very cheap hostel up a very steep hill – the Golden Hill Bungalows were booked through HostelBookers and cost only 6 pounds per night to stay in a 4 bed room (2 bunk beds). My room-mates were friendly and good for a beer and the Golden Hill had a good bar. The downside though was the bed – my back almost gave out and I had to eventually upgrade to More >
On Friday 27th November, sletoH.com founder Ben (that’s me, Hello!) set off on a trip through South East Asia to Australia and back again. I am going to blog about the trip here.
First stop Kuala Lumpur… I was going to make this a one night stay and get out as a few people had told me it was rubbish. However, at the last minute I was promised a delightful time if I found my way to Bukit Bintang and the Batu Caves. I booked a hostel in Bukit Bintang (the Paradiso bed and breakfast) and went out to explore KL More >